April 17, 2008
by Meghan Kleppinger, Editor, Christianity.com
Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ.
Recently, I found myself in a runner’s rut.
When it comes to the gym, I am a treadmill purist.
When it comes to exercising outside, if I’m not wearing boots and sitting in saddle, I’m in running shoes and hitting the pavement.
I love to run. It’s a great way to get the blood pumping, the mind cleared, and the body toned. I simply stretch my legs, tie the laces on my Nikes, turn up the volume on my iPod, and go.
So, I ask you, how is it possible that I ended up in a rut doing something I love?
Well, (insert sigh), after doing the same thing, day after day, I found that I wasn’t improving my speed or my lengthening my distance and, worst of all, I was bored. The enjoyment and motivation were gone.
Why? Well, there are several reasons. I wasn’t challenging myself. I wasn’t setting new goals. I would just hop on the treadmill, do what needed be done, and that was it. The most damaging thing was that I was doing the same exact thing day after day. What had once been a lot of fun simply became a box I needed to check.
What did I do to fix this problem? I decided it was important to challenge myself, set goals, and try new things. I started running in different places and setting some time and distance goals. The one thing that made the difference was the reintroduction to interval training.
Interval training includes a warm-up pace on the treadmill followed by intervals of speed running followed by short recovery running or jogging. The challenge and sense of accomplishment that come from this sort of training have made running fun again.
Interval training isn’t new, and I wasn’t the one to discover it as the cure to runner’s rut. Personal trainers have been pushing it for years - not only because it can kill boredom but because of its numerous physical and mental benefits.
As I renewed my love for running, I discovered that many of the challenges and solutions I encountered during my running rut can be applied to a spiritual rut.
No matter how much we love God, if we are doing the same things, the same way, day after day, we can easily find ourselves in a spiritual rut for the same reasons I did with my running - we’re not challenged. No new goals, and no change to our routine. We need to do something like interval training and shake things up a bit.
It’s not that we’re doing something wrong, it’s just hard to expect new results if we continue to do things the same way.
What can we do about it? For starters we need to go to God and share with Him the desire to change and grow. Some other practical things we can do include changing the way we spend our devotional and Bible study time - why not start a prayer journal or try a new Bible study method? Are there ministries within the church that might need a volunteer? How about witnessing to friends who don’t know Christ?
My interval training challenges me, but the speed bursts are strengthening a variety of muscles that aren’t used during my regular runs. The same is true when we shake things up in our individual spiritual journeys.
I encourage you to allow God to stretch you and develop your spiritual muscles - if you do, you’ll grow in ways you never have dreamed of.